NIMH suggests that 16 million Americans suffer from depression, but humans aren’t the only ones who fall victim to this.
It wasn’t until the 1990s that animal behavioralists discovered that cats can suffer from depression too.
So how would you know if your cat is depressed? Each cat is unique, so they will not demonstrate depression the exact same way.
Here are some signs and symptoms of cat depression:
- lack of appetite
- lack of interest in play or activity
- sleeping more
- grooming less
- hiding in isolation
- changes in personality
Why do cats get depressed?
Cats become depressed for a variety of reasons. The idea that they are careless and do not want human companionship is a myth.
The structure of a cat’s brain is more similar to a human’s brain than a dog’s brain. This means that they process emotion and memory in a similar manner to us.
Cats are not house ornaments. They require physical and emotional maintenance. They need plenty of attention!
If your cat is an only child, they will need even more human attention. People tend to think that cats are solitary creatures and don’t want/need human attention. This is far from the truth.
Feral cats that grew up in the wild and were adopted at an older age may be more independent, but cats that have been raised by humans consider their owners a fundamental part of their lives.
Neglecting your cat may cause feline depression.
Cats may become depressed when there is a new cat in the family and they are neglected for the other cat.
It’s easy to get consumed with tending to your new cat, but don’t forget about your first baby.
Cats are habitual creatures – they like routines. Bringing a new cat into your home is a big change, and they’re not fond of changes in their routine.
Now this doesn’t mean that your original cat and new cat won’t eventually grow to enjoy each other’s company – cats often do better with playmates.
But it does mean that you need to be extra sensitive around your old cat and make sure he/she is getting plenty of attention to compensate for the change.
Moving is another common reason cats start feeling down. As stated before, cats do not like change.
If they could stay where they grew up forever, they would be perfectly happy. But life doesn’t always work that way!
If you have recently moved, your cat may hide or refuse to leave its carrier. This is normal and it takes time for them to adjust to their new home.
In the meantime, be gentle and understanding. Keep some blankets or clothes that were recently in your former home in their carrier or hiding spot to make them feel at ease.
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This is the most heart-breaking cause of feline depression. Cats will grieve over a lost friend or owner for weeks or even months.
They become very attached to their companions: other cats, dogs, and people alike.
Unlike humans, cats don’t understand what has happened immediately. They have to suffer through the agonizing wait and wonder why their friends aren’t returning home.
They might smell clothes or blankets and remember their old friend , only to be reminded they’re gone.
If your cat is grieving the loss of a loved one, it is best not to leave them alone. Be present to comfort them and give them extra support.
Your vet will likely agree that anti-depressants for cats are the last resort. Instead, try some of these tips to get your fur baby feeling better.
- Give your cat plenty of attention.
- Make sure they are stimulated and are exercising.
- Leave the blinds and curtains open so they can soak up the sun.
- Bring out their favorite snacks.
The actual number of cases of feline depression is largely unknown. Most people don’t think to consider that their cat is depressed, making them less likely to go to the veterinarian and report it.
**IMPORTANT** If your cat is showing signs of depression, immediately take them to a veterinarian. Some of the signs and symptoms associated with depression are also symptoms of more serious diseases. It is best to be safe and seek professional help.
4 Signs of Cat Depression
- They feel neglected.
- They feel jealous of a new cat.
- You have recently moved homes.
- They are grieving the death of a companion.
QUESTION: Has your cat ever been depressed? How did you help your cat overcome their sadness? Leave your answer in the comments below!